The Board of Mennonite Home Communities of Ohio (MHCO) is happy to announce plans for continuing operations of the Hilty Preschool and Childcare in Pandora, Ohio. Following the January 2, 2024 announcement that the childcare would be closing on January 31 there was a groundswell of local effort to continue the operation of a childcare in Pandora. Parents reported frustration and inability to locate alternative childcare openings in Putnam County and long waiting lists at other facilities, including surrounding towns.
The Pandora Village Council heard their pleas, as voiced at the January 9 Village Council meeting. Council had already approached MHCO and these pleas supported their resolve to find a workable solution for everyone. The Putnam County CIC joined the Village in their efforts. Local businessmen, Zachary Buckland and Evan Schroeder, stepped forward to propose purchase of the childcare operation. They have formed Hilty’s Faithful Foundations Preschool and Childcare, LLC and it will remain in the current location. They plan to expand the childcare space into adjacent space of the former Hilty Memorial Home. In collaboration with MHCO, current operations will continue through March 31, 2024, by which time they expect to have the legal transactions and licensing processes completed.
Meanwhile, the Village of Pandora submitted a purchase proposal to HUD, the loan holder for the empty facility. The Hilty Memorial Home was closed in December 2022 and the childcare
allowed to continue in the building. MHCO had attempted to find purchasers for the building and the childcare, but was unsuccessful. Pandora Mayor, Jeremy Liechty, shared these thoughts about the collaboration, “We believe that by attempting to purchase the building, Pandora will have the Hilty daycare remain in place and opportunities for other businesses to grow within our community. We appreciate how MCHO continued to maintain the Hilty facility and we are hopeful that an offer for the building is accepted by HUD to keep moving forward in 2024.”
Once the transactions are completed, the Village will begin a strategic planning process to determine additional operations that can utilize other areas of the 60,000 square foot space.
Families and Staff have been informed of the plans for continuing childcare services and new operators are eager to move forward with their expansion plans. Zach Buckland expressed hope that Hilty childcare families and staff will “hang in with us” as the transitions take place. “Evan and I know firsthand how difficult it is to find quality childcare close to home. This is what motivates us to take on this challenge. We are committed to making this a successful and permanent operation. And we are especially happy to have Amanda Dettrow continue as the Director, continuing her 17 years of leadership.”
MHCO Board Chair, Elizabeth Kelly, shared her enthusiasm about this turn of events, “We know that it takes a village to raise a child. We are seeing that it takes a village and a county and a group of committed parents and citizens to provide much needed childcare in rural communities. We are thankful for the hard work that is making this possible.”